How to Sell a Thoroughbred Horse

Three Parts:Advertising Your HorseSample AdvertisementSelling a Horse

The thoroughbred horse is not an average barn horse. They are bred for showing, racing, and agility competitions over fences and under saddle. Therefore, you must consider the experience and the intentions of the buyer alongside the soundness of the horse. Some owners like to sell their thoroughbreds through large agencies but others prefer to sell the horse themselves.

Part 1
Advertising Your Horse

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    Know your horse. It's important to be up-front about the horse that you're selling. Give a potential buyer as much information as possible about the qualities, shortcomings, and characteristics of your horse. If you aren't completely honest now, you may have an angry buyer on your hands after the sale. Consider the following qualities when selling a horse:
    • Basic stats. The breed, gender, name, and bloodline are all important. Ribbons and awards can also tell you a lot about the quality of a horse. Think of these qualities like the make and model of a car: They are the first things that a potential buyer will notice, and they are the primary qualifiers that buyers will weigh in their decision to investigate the horse further. Many buyers are looking for a specific breed or gender, and an impressive name, bloodline, or showing history might catch the eye.
    • Personality. How does the horse behave? What spooks it? How does it react to surprises? Is it kind and loving, or does it like to make you really work to get it to work for you? Describe its temperament on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being wild and 1 being calm.
    • How it rides. How does this horse move? Is he short and choppy, long and smooth, or quick and bumpy? Does he listen to your leg, or does he neck rein? Is he easy to get into a trot, canter/lope, or does he put up a fight?
    • Skills. Can this horse rope, is he good with cows, did he come from the racetrack, has he even been under saddle? What is your horse trained in? This could make or break a sale, so be truthful and open about what your horse knows and doesn't know. Many buyers look for off-the-track thoroughbreds (OTTBs) that have never been raced, because they can versatile enough for the jumper ring or hunter ring. Some areas have shows just for them.
    • Past injuries, immunizations, or experiences. The most important thing to include is whether your horse is sound or not. If a buyer is looking for a horse to ride in the hills, and your horse has had a severe injury that prevents him from carrying riders, you need to let the buyer know. Tell the buyers everything about the horse's health, even if a condition doesn't directly affect the horse's ability to perform certain tasks. If you are selling a broodmare, also put in the time to research their foals' competitive history for proven breeding success.
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    Consider your horse's temperament. Many buyers want a specific breed, but sometimes they look more broadly for a horse with a certain temperament. Categorize your horse as hot-blooded, warm-blooded, or cold-blooded according to its energy level, speed, strength, and obedience. These categories tend to accompany certain breeds, but this is not always true.
    • Some breeds (such as thoroughbreds, Arabians, and the Spanish Barb) are known as hot-blooded horses. This means that they are very high-energy, and it can also mean that they require more work to ride. These types of horses are normally seen on the race track or in three-day eventing. They have tons of energy, and they might be too much for some people to handle.
    • Quarter Horses, Fox Trotters, and Paso Finos are known as warm-blooded horses. These horses have speed and energy, but it is easier to get them to slow down and think. These horses might be seen alongside hot-blooded horses in three-day eventing, but they are most popular in dressage events, show jumping, reining, and cattle work. These horses are very hard workers and they enjoy a good challenge.
    • Cold-blooded horses are going to be your draft horses, the heavy-working, low-energy horses that have a whole lot of strength. Examples would be Frisians, Shires, Clydesdales, and Persians. These horses are used mostly as working horses, pulling plows or wagons or stagecoaches. Some, like the Frisian, have been introduced into the showing world and are used as dressage and jumping horses, however.
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    Legitimize the sale. Consider showing potential buyers pictures and video clips of the horse. If the horse is registered, keep its bloodline papers on hand. Consider inviting buyers to see the horse in person. Include any of the following information:
    • Pictures of the horse. The most recent, the better. It is not helpful for the buyer to see a picture of the horse as a colt. Take a variety of pictures of people riding the horse, as well as pictures of the horse on its own, so that a buyer can see how the horse looks both ways.
    • Video. If at all possible, get videos of the horse in action, both with and without a rider, as well as with different riders. This shows off how the horse moves, and how it acts under saddle with different people. This will make the process much easier for a buyer.
    • Papers. If the horse is registered include a copy of the horses bloodline papers. In the show world, bloodlines are extremely important, and someone who's into showing will know which bloodlines they like and which they don't.
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    Consider registering the horse. If the horse is registered and it has a show name, it is much more likely to sell. Register as much information as possible. Your state, your country, the horse's breed, and the horse's discipline need to be included. Give your horse an impressive show name, and people may be even more likely to buy your horse.
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    Set a reasonable price. What is the horse really worth? A horse should go down for $500 right away, especially if it's a thoroughbred. A horse with a very good pedigree is worth at least another $500. Charge an extra $200 for each show that the horse has been in. If the horse is strikingly beautiful, consider adding another $500. As with all horse for sport, price increases with training. The more capable the horse, the more value.
    • Compare your horse with other horses on the market. If the horse can hold a frame in all three paces and has lateral movements established, look at the prices of similar horses. From here you can begin to think about setting a price. For example, if horses of similar experience sell for $2000, don't try to sell for $8000.
    • No one is going to seriously look at a horse being sold for $10,000 if the horse is 8 years old, has no papers, and is not even saddle-broken. However, your $10,000 asking price might be more reasonable if a horse is four years old, with very good bloodlines, and fully trained.
    • Keep the economy in mind when selling. If money is tight, you might have trouble finding a buyer even if that horse really is worth the asking price.
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    Consider providing a radiograph of the horse. Consignors may have the horse examined by veterinarians, and a radiograph can be placed in a repository for potential buyers and veterinarians to view. Each sale has its own guidelines as to how long before the sale you radiographs can be taken. Generally speaking, the most popular views are the various angles of all of the four ankles, knees, hocks, and stifles.
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    Advertise your horse. Make flyers and post them around town. Post to local websites like Craigslist, Facebook, or a local horse forum, and consider posting your ad to large-scale horse-selling websites. Tell your friends, your family, and your community of horse enthusiasts to spread the word that you're selling.
    • You want to get your ad out there as much as possible. The more people who see your ad, the more potential buyers you have. Be sure to list your name, your number, and your email address alongside any information about your horse.
    • Consider why you are selling him. You will need to include this in your advertisement to ensure that he is going to the best of suitable homes.
    • There are many horse-sale websites. You usually need to make an account to buy and sell. Some are free to use, and some require membership fees. Consider the following:,,,
    • Take your cues from other sellers. Look at other ads online and see which information other sellers are listing. Consider which types of horses are selling, and which are not.
    • If you're having a hard time selling the horse, sweeten the deal with something free. The horse's blanket or saddle, or even a pair of polo wraps or a bag of treats can help make the sale. The word "free" catches people's eyes, and when they see a good horse offered alongside some free stuff, they may be more likely to buy it.

Part 2
Sample Advertisement

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    Honour is a 17.3hh Thoroughbred gelding. He came to me free to good home after having been starved for 3 months. He was originally trialled as a racehorse but proved to be far to slow, apparently trotting out of the gates as a three year old. He began his show jumping career at the age of four but was not properly educated, rather taught to rush at the jump leaving his rider to hang on. He is now rising seven and his rushing has improved over his past 6 months of education with me. He collects in all three paces, working from behind into your hands. He requires soft hands as he will try to throw you off if you yank on him. He genuinely tries his hardest, but can take some coercion to do what you want. He bucks coming back into work, and is at his best when in full work. Jumps 1.25m in a course, 1.30m is his max height. He suffers from mild stifle lock in his left hip, which does not affect his work. Due to his being jumped so early he does show early signs of arthritis in his knees and receives pentosan injections every few months for this. Is a loving horse, lives for cuddles and grooming time. High in the pecking order in the herd, although not a bully. Occasionally bolts in new surroundings or when he dislodges his rider. Fully responsive to vocal cues, great on the lunge, at the beach, on trails, looks for jumps in the arena. Self loads onto the float, good for farrier, barefoot, some difficulty worming. Two hard feeds a day, constant pasture/ hay roll. Suited to an experienced home only, preferably competition home, someone who can get the best out of him. Selling only due to lack of time with studies this year. Sad sale, asking $4500.

Part 3
Selling a Horse

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    Meet the people who want to buy your horse. Talk about your horse, why they want to buy, and where they will be keeping it. Make a date for them to visit and try out your horse.
    • Be prepared for people to waste your time messaging you. You just have to weed through the photo collectors to find those who genuinely want to buy your horse. They will ask to arrange a visit, perhaps multiple visits, to come and see him. Don't be afraid to ask for references, and consider asking for pictures of the sort of home your horse will be going to. Any genuine buyer will be okay with this.
    • Many buyers will request a trial, maybe a week or two, to see if the horse is a good fit. Determine a fee for this, with a credit against a sale, or consider asking the potential buyer to get insurance for the trial.
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    Keep your horse in good shape. The sales preparation process for any horse should begin at least 60 days prior to the date of the sale. One must focus on the horses proper feeding, health care, grooming, and exercise to bring a horse to its peak at the time of the sale.
    • A horse consigned to the sale should be bathed daily and groomed throughout the showing so that the horse will be at its best for potential buyers. It is important to note that buyers are extremely attracted to a horse that walks well, and this can have a very big impact on the horse's value price.
    • When the horse walks into the ring, this is the time when some consignors pay special attention to details. Consider using talc powder on some white spots or shoe polish to cover insignificant blemishes. Using baby oil around the eyes and muzzle can also help enhance the horses appearance. Some consignors even suggest that you braid the manes and tails.
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    Invite potential buyers to see the horse. Before they arrive, set up the arena and prepare the riding equipment for your horse. Make sure that you have groomed, fed, and tied up your horse. Most buyers will want to ride the horse. If not, offer to ride the thoroughbred for them, and give information on what the best way to ride the horse is. Thoroughbreds are usually very sensitive, so help the potential buyer try to understand your horse. Answer any questions they have, be as open as possible, and make sure to give as much information as possible.
    • Do not drug your horse before showing it! People want to know exactly how the horse would act if they bought it.
    • When potential buyers ride the horse, be sure not to have any other horses in the ring, as this can sometimes cause stress or anxiety to the horse you're selling. The horse may already be anxious because he or she is carrying a new rider.
    • If the rider thinks that the horse is a good match, there's a good chance that he or she will call back within a week.
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    Choose the most suitable owner. Think about the people who visit your horse and how they are suitable for the horse. Consider the way they rode, and whether they seem like they will treat your horse well. Consider how much various buyers are willing to pay, compared to the price you want. A seller should have the horses best interest first. Be sure that the buyer is capable of handling the horse along with its future care, stabling, and vet costs.
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    Sell the horse. Write up a contract to seal the deal in writing. You should receive a deposit, at least, and sign a contract of sale when handing him to the new owner. They may pay the rest in installments, or you may ask for payment in full.
    • In the contract, make sure to list out all the pros and cons of the sale. Make sure to include whether the buyer is receiving tack, or any other equipment, along with the horse.
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    Stay in touch. You may keep in contact with the new owners to get updates on your old horse and see how he is doing. If you find that miss the horse, ask the new owners if you can come visit the horse's new home, but be careful to respect the owners.


  • Consider bargaining with the buyer. You may get more money that way.
  • Let the buyer catch the horse from the field, tack them up, etc.


  • Do not sell your horse if you're not absolutely sure that you want to sell it!

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Categories: Horses